British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds has given a positive response to news that the Culture Secretary Jeremey Hunt has been appointed Health Secretary in today’s Cabinet reshuffle. Hunt has replaced Andrew Lansley, who has been made Leader of the House of Commons. The new Culture Secretary is Maria Miller, former minister for disabled people. Hunt will be the Cabinet minister overseeing the Responsibility Deal, the series of voluntary pledges between Government and industry to improve the nation’s health; for the eating and drinking out sectors, this has involved measures such as alcohol labelling on drinks, calorie labelling on menus and salt reduction in foods. Simmonds told M&C Report: “I’m absolutely delighted about Jeremy Hunt. I’ve known him for many years. I’ve had many discussions with Jeremey Hunt about many issues, although not to do with health. “I’ve already written to him and asked for a meeting.” On the former Health Secretary, Simmonds said: “Andrew Lansley was a staunch supporter of us despite criticism from the health lobby. I think he has worked with us to be clear that voluntary agreements do work and regulation is not always the answer.” Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson has replaced Norman Lamb as the business minister responsible for issues around pubcos and the beer tie. Other junior ministerial roles are expected to be announced this afternoon and tomorrow. These include economic secretary to the Treasury, currently Chloe Smith, and tourism and heritage minister, currently John Penrose; community pubs minister, currently Bon Neill. Comment by John Harrington, M&C Report associate editor He certainly has his critics - not least those in the medical profession who bitterly oppose his handling of NHS reform. But history will judge Andrew Lansley as one of the industry’s greatest supporters in David Cameron’s Cabinet, and his passing as Health Secretary should not be welcomed so enthusiastically by the sector. Lansley has been the Cabinet minister most closely associated with the Responsibility Deal. Companies can legitimately argue about details of the requirements and timings of the agreements, but let’s be clear: the Responsibility Deal is far better than the alternatives. Since it’s inception, the policy has come under attack from opposition politicians, health campaigners and section of the media for being too soft on the food and drinks industries. They call for intervention, and the clamour is showing no signs of abating - witness the motion to be debated at the Liberal Democrat’s forthcoming Conference for higher tax on fizzy drinks, along with moves by other Western countries to impose a so-called ‘fat tax’. Then there’s minimum pricing. Lansley was among the Cabinet’s fiercest critics of the measure, which most senior pub industry figures believe would backfire on the sector. Disagreement over the policy undoubtedly increased friction between him and the Prime Minister and hastened Lansley’s departure. Meanwhile, there’s little consensus on how Jeremy Hunt will perform in Lansley’s place. While Hunt is generally viewed as a naturally supportive to the industry, his role as the Culture Secretary did not require difficult decision on controversial areas such as health and licensing (not since remit for the latter subject was handed to the Home Office). When push comes to shove, will Hunt resist the march of regulation as doggedly as his predecessor? The trade must use the coming months to re-state its commitment to the Responsibility Deal, and keep its fingers crossed.